Thursday, December 23, 2004

Trapcode Particular Pyro Pack

Announced by Peder Norrby of Trapcode: "This is a collection of documented AE projects designed to inspire and teach how to use Trapcode Particular for explosions and other pyro effects. Requires AE6 Pro or later and Trapcode Particular."

View Reel (10MB) | Preview docs | Download PyroPack (this download includes AE projects and docs)

Merry X-mas!
Peder Norrby / Trapcode

Trapcode Particular is one incredible plug-in and I've seen it on loads of Christmas ads lately, doing that text wipe thing that is a preset. You have seen it, I am sure. Particular is everywhere. Read our review here.

Because you must have it, click here to own it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

fnord gives away SuperTIFF Free!

fnord SuperTIFF is a tiff plug-in for After Effects that allows you to export 16-bit HDR Tiff files. And it's free. Yeah!

While you're at the Fnord site, check out some of their other fine products, many are free. I love free. Free is my middle name.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

See WETA Digital's incredible creature creations in the upcoming film The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. (25 MB Quicktime) I loved that cartoon as a kid.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Review and Freebie: broadcastGEMs Volume01 AE Pro Series

Toolfarm Rating: (5/5)
Freebie info is at the end of the article

I really had the idea that broadcastGEMs was another knock-off of ArtBeats or Digital Juice JumpBacks when I first heard about it. Well, I was off quite a bit on that assumption (and my pa always said "Don't assume -- it just makes an ass out of u and me."). I'm sure your pa told you the same thing.

broadcastGEMs are more of a toolbox for the artist that goes above and beyond plug-ins. There are no rendered comps, no movies, nothing completed. That's your job. Make it yours. The package is targeted to broadcast professionals who are under tight deadlines and lots of pressure to create neato cool graphics cheaply. broadcastGEMs is totally on the mark. To steal a tagline from one of my favorite sites,, it's the designers dirty little secret.

Read the rest of the article and see some samples... oh yeah, download the freebie, too.

What are broadcastGEMs?

broadcastGEMs are comps, FFX and other helpers for After Effects. There are premade mattes, backgrounds, text effects, reflections, buttons and lower-thirds. They are complex comps that would take quite a while to create from scratch. The great thing about this product is that the hard part is done for you and you get to modify and tweak them until your heart's content.

What's so great about broadcastGEMs?

The projects are very well thought out. Just look at the impressive stack of effects that cohabitate on a single layer. stack of effectsEvery effect is clearly labelled so that you know it's role and there are also comments on the layer so that you know what to tweak. Of course, you can adjust anything, the comments are just a way to help you along.

broadcastGEMs Volume01 AE Pro Series also comes with seamless tiles that can be used with text, as backgrounds or used as displacement maps. They're mainly rock textures and they're very colorful and organic. They're used in some of the "Expresso AEPs", or preset comps, but you can also use them for your own nefarious purposes.

Roland Kahlenberg, creator of broadcastGEMs, is an Adobe Certified Trainer and he really knows the program inside and out. I know the program really well too and I teach AE at an art college, but I have to say, I've learned a bit while going through the the broadcastGEMs projects. He uses certain techniques which I've never tried.

I don't think Roland considered that broadcastGEMs would also a great learning tool for newbies of AE. When I first started using AE, it would've been great to have broadcastGEMs. I could've studied the complex techniques and deconstruct to see how they're put together. They're not tutorials by any means, but some of us don't have the patience to read a manual or tutorials and would much rather just dig through some cool projects to see how they tick. When my pa was a kid he and his brothers got new watches for Christmas. Within a week they had taken them apart to literally see how they tick. They never got the watches back together. The same concept applies here, except you can always keep a "safe" copy of the projects in case you "break" them.

This product is targeted to broadcast professionals and although I do not work in broadcast, I do work under tight deadlines at the post-house where I work (yes, I have 3 jobs... and a toddler). I do a lot of graphics for corporate videos for big companies that are penny-pinching and self-restrained. This product would allow me to crank out the goods in no-time and allow me to customize each. This product is perfect for someone in my position.

Take a look at the sample I've included on the page - my cute kid playing in the leaves. It's an animated mask with a border, a moving organic-looking background and dynamic text that looks thick and textured. It literally took me 5 minutes to throw this together. Imagine what could be done with a little more effort, eh.

More info and the freebie

So, check out the page in the store to get all the details and be sure to check out the freebies that broadcastGEMs is offering - an Expresso comp and a FFX favorite for text that makes neat gold flecks on your text when you apply it. Download the broadcastGEMs Volume01 AE Pro Series freebie here.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Anvel gives a gift that keeps on giving

"Hello After Effects Community

I wanted to do something for all of the people I've met and who have helped me out this year with my training courseware. I couldn't really afford a present so the only thing I could think of was to put an entire CD tutorial online for you guys to play around with. This is the latest and in my opinion the best project lesson so far. It is also the first project lesson to be completed entirely in 6.5.

Tutorial CD 6 Atlanta Xplosion is located at The Anvel and then look under the free tutorials section.


PS I've include as much as I could from the Atlanta Xplosion CD but there was no way to upload the video at full resolution... so please forgive the low res quality of the Mov examples. "

Now isn't that nice! Thank you, Dean and The Anvel

Direct link to tutorial pages

Saturday, December 04, 2004

New Tutorial - Using the New Continuum Complete Motion Tracker in After Effects

If you haven't had a chance to check out Boris Continuum Complete, it has this super cool feature that allows you to motion track right in the filter. That's right!

This tutorial addresses this fab feature. The tutorial is called "Using the New Continuum Complete Motion Tracker in After Effects".

This plug-in is pretty much the only plug-in package that you need when you first get AE. It has a bit of everything and it does it very well. Don't believe me? Download a demo here and play along with the tutorial..

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Make your ex-girlfriend's eyes shoot laser beams!

Démbélé Ismael of the Institut National Polytechnique FHB in the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), West Africa has created a new tutorial for us, How to transform a beautiful girl into a monster.

It's a beginner level tutorial and fun for the whole family. The sample uses a still photo but you could easily replace it with moving video and motion track the effect to the eyes.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

broadcastGEMs announces new product

broadcastGEMs (Graphic Elements in Motion) is pleased to announce a new product to complement their DV Series. The AE Pro Series is delivered on DVD and includes Adobe After Effects project files.

Product Specs

- 20 Rendered, Customizable Animated Backgrounds
- 30+ Rendered, Customizable Animated Elements [2D and 3D - includes 20 Seamless Tiles (Still Images) and a Number of Vector Objects]
- 40+ AEPs
- Includes Numerous Elements created using Standard Version Plug-ins
- Includes 6 Expression Controlled Elements (designed and created by Dan Ebberts and Roland Kahlenberg)
a) Faux Par Reflection
b) Sniper Target System
c) BrushWipeFx
d) Lower 3rd Creation Engine
e) Circular Matte Creation Engine
f) Seamless Texture Animator
- Includes 15 TexTures (in FFX Format) as Animation Presets. A small number of these TexTures will be emailed to users as part of the registration incentive process.
- Includes HTML documentation for easy reference of each AEP. No 'finished' backgrounds are supplied. This will prevent the likelyhood that no two 'finished' backgrounds are identical.

Questions? Send an email to

Technical Specs

- All supplied clips are rendered at double-frame rate (59.94fps for NTSC and 50fps for PAL) and at square-pixel aspect ratio (720x540 for NTSC and 768x576 for PAL)
- All supplied clips are rendered to Targa Sequences.
- Compatible with Adobe After Effects version 5.5 (Standard Version)
- NTSC & PAL versions are included in a single package.

Product Availability:

broadcastGEMs Volume01 AE Pro Series is set to be released in the 1st
week of December 2004. Download a Zipped PDF (product brochure)

Sales Call

An Early-Bird Sales Call is on Right Now! Place your orders by midnight (EDT) November 30, 2004 and save $US40 on the suggested retail price of US$229. Normal Shipping charges are applicable. To place your early-bird order, send an email to with the words "I want my AE Pro GEMs" in the subject line. In the body of your email, provide us with your address and the type of credit card you will be using for the order. We will get back to you and request for more pertinent payment information when the product is ready for shipping.

About broadcastGEMs

broadcastGEMs was founded in July 2004. The company specializes in creating high-quality, customizable, royalty-free animated backdrops for the broadcast industry. Founded by Roland Kahlenberg, an Adobe
After Effects Certified Expert & Instructor, Roland is also a host at's Adobe After Effects Forum. broadcastGEMs' products are created by experienced producers and designers. This ensures that each product has a high usability score.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Interview with After Effects User and VFX Legend Doug Chiang

Roving reporter Matt Schirado sent me this great link - Pros with Macs - An Interview With Doug Chiang: The Man Behind Robota. Mr. Chiang has worked on films like Forrest Gump, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Mennace, Terminator 2 and The Polar Express.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - The Movie

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - The Movie will be out next summer and some really cool concept artwork arrived last week. They're currently busy with post-production.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite books of all time. It's filled with great advice: "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta... wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat... wrap it around your head to ward off noxious fumes... any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it... win through, and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

Press Release: Top Graphics Artist makes Curious gFx his Software of Choice

Curious gFx"To date, I haven't come across a single shot that I couldn't finish using Curious gFx and, in time, I think it could be the standard paint/roto tool for the industry"

USA - NOVEMBER 2004: Special effects artist Greg Shimp, whose credits include all three Matrix movies, has become a firm advocate of Curious Software's new 16-bit paint and roto tool, Curious gFx Pro+, thanks to its ability to deliver consistently great results.

Over the last 12 months, Shimp has used the software on a number of major film projects including Ladykillers and Catwoman. His knowledge and expertise with Curious gFx Pro has recently landed him a position at CIS Hollywood, a Los-Angeles based visual effects company, which is currently looking at the possibility of implementing the software as a non-SGI alternative to Matador.

Launched in 2002, Curious Software's Curious gFx was specifically designed to meet the needs of the television, post-production and film industries. It includes a powerful paint engine for moving images, a sophisticated new roto-matte system and a range of features for wire and rig removal or content restoration. The software also offers the intuitive ease-of-use familiar to users of other Curious products such as Curious World Maps.

Continue reading press releaseGreg Shimp first came across Curious gFx when he was working on the Matrix sequels at San Francisco-based visual effects specialist, ESC.

"At first I didn't have the chance to delve into it because of time constraints on finishing the Matrix sequels," he explains. "But once they were completed I had the perfect opportunity to see what Curious gFx was capable of when our other software fell short on an extremely difficult paint shot for Ladykillers. I needed a PC software that allowed me to have subpixel accuracy when lining up a second layer to paint from. Despite the difficulties inherent in getting to know any new software, I was able to complete the task within deadline using Curious gFx. That success on such a difficult shot inspired me to continue experimenting by using the software on all types of shots."

Although Curious Software's founders have a long and impressive track record in creating special effects software for the film industry, the company itself is viewed as a relative newcomer and is best known for its innovative broadcast mapping software, Curious World Maps. With the launch of Curious gfx, the Curious team were keen to work closely with the industry to ensure that the new software offered exactly what end users wanted.

Greg Shimp says this ability to incorporate end user feedback was one of the main reasons why he was so impressed by the Curious Software team.

"I was impressed that somebody was finally attempting to develop a stand-alone paint/roto software and that they were eager to seek my input on how to improve it," he says. "It's great to have a new software dedicated to just doing paint/roto work, with a development team implementing suggestions for improvement quite quickly in updated versions. This is a major advantage because these days most paint/roto softwares are no longer being supported for added improvements."

Shimp's enthusiasm for Curious gFx eventually resulted in Circle S purchasing the software when he was hired to work from home on Catwoman. Because of budget constraints he was only allowed one piece of software, so he chose Curious gFx.

He explains: "I liked what I saw in Curious, especially with the immediate upgrades utilizing suggestions for improvement, and I felt fairly confidant about my chances on completing work in a timely manner using gFx. Thankfully, my instincts were correct. I was able to finish 30 mid to difficult bungee chord removal shots in just under three months for Catwoman and I was very pleased with the results I achieved."

Shimp adds that everything he has produced using Curious gFx has worked easily in other software as rendered out images.

"It's a decent piece of software, although, like most developing software it has it's annoying little bugs that need to be ironed out," he says. "Yet, there is a team at the ready to help eliminate all those problems and that makes all the difference. To date, I have not come across a single shot that I could not finish using Curious and, in time, I think it could be the standard paint/roto tool for the industry."

Greg Shimp is currently using Curious gFx on two new movies that are being graphically enhanced by CIS Hollywood.

"I'm using it for everything from simple roto and tracking marker removal to difficult wire/rig removals and complex roto of multiple moving people in one shot," he says.

About Curious Software

Curious Software is an innovative software company with a great pedigree. Founded in May 1999, Curious Software's aim is to make the highest quality professional information graphics available to everyone creating content for the television, post-production, Internet and corporate graphics industries. Curious Software products provide all the tools required to create stunning animations and presentations in easy-to-use and affordable packages. Our series of professional products are all based on a generic multi-ayered animation engine, designed to accelerate the creation of the highest quality graphics.

For more information about Curious gFx Pro please visit the Toolfarm gFx Pro page


You may have noticed the little change below each post on the Toolfarm home page and the Inspiration page. The comments have been there, but now they are much more prominent. I switched the comment tracking system when I moved the content from the AE FreeMart, so unfortunately, the old comments are gone. That leaves ample room for new comments!

We would love to know your thoughts and feelings on tutorials, products, articles and anything we post. As they say in Mexico: Mi granja de la herramienta es tu granja de la herramienta (My Toolfarm is your Toolfarm).

There is a lot of new content on the Inspiration page, so if you haven't been there in a while, I encourage to check it out (my current favorite: What Barry Thinks.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

I (Heart) Huckabees Effects

Cinefex Weekly Update had an article a couple of weeks ago on the effects from the film I (Heart) Huckabees. All of the effects were done by three men on G5s with Adobe After Effects. They go into quite a bit of detail and have some nice images from the film.

If you scroll down the page, there's a bit on some upcoming films. More proof that there are no new ideas in Hollywood - another King Kong remake and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a supernatural thriller. I was kind of happy to see that Disney will be making a new "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe". Love that one.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Review: Trapcode Particular

Toolfarm Rating: (5/5)

Trapcode Particular is an incredible plug-in for After Effects that gives the artist the ability to create realistic fire and smoke, as well as awe-inspiring organic "stuff".

Awe-inspiring? Yep. That's what I said. Feast your eyes on the samples over to the right. Go on. Glance over there. We'll wait. Click any of the images to view a short movie. Wow!

This plug-in has been out for a while, and those of you who already own it, I'm sure will agree, Particular is phat! I've recently used it quite a bit on projects, most notably, my School of Fish tutorial. The tutorial demonstrates how to make several fish that move individually, but together, as in a school. Although you probably don't have much use for animating sea bass, Particular makes Hollywood caliber explosions, sci-fi starfields, blizzardy snow, abstract dancing lines, glowing spheres and just about anything else you can think of that might be in groups.

Read the rest of the review and see more samplesAfter dabbling with the plug-in for few hours, I was hooked. This plug-in has comprehensive settings for every detail of the particle, which you would expect from any particle generator. What sets Particular apart from the crowd is the exceptional preview window, which lets you see what the settings look like without rendering. You can spin and turn your particles around in 3D space to view every angle.

Another great feature is the Animation Presets, which works like Favorites. Trapcode spent loads of time creating dazzling samples for you. When I first started using Particular, I was a bit overwhelmed by having so many options in Particular. The Animation Presets menu allowed me to jump in with two feet, find something similar to what I wanted and then tweaked them until I was content. Evened for the seasoned Particular user, setting up an effect from scratch could be laborous, but the preset menu allows one to choose something similar and modify the settings. It's really an efficiency tool in disguise.

The built-in help is superb. It's thourough and easy to understand. I am not the type to ever look at a manual or help section. I prefer to drive myself insane trying to figure things out on my own. I did look up the Aux System settings because I really didn't have a clue of what they did. Five minutes of reading through the built-in help and I was ready to go.

I did run into one thing that I wanted to do with the plug-in, but could not, and that is to create an enclosed area with a mask that would contain the particles. This can be done with Particle Playground, After Effects' built-in particle generator. Particle Playground works in 2D and Particular works in 3D, so I can see how difficult it would be to create a three dimensional mask. Maybe in future versions....

Overall, Trapcode Particular is freakin' awesome. I can't think of one other plug-in that is so versatile and makes me look so good, and that's really what it's all about, isn't it. Making your stuff look really good.

Trapcode Particular is available for download only. Toolfarm bundles Particular with other cool Trapcode products, too. The Trapcode 3D Pack includes Trapcode 3D Stroke, Particular, and Lux plug-ins. The Trapcode Suite 2004 bundle is the bomb - all 6 Trapcode plug-ins ( Shine, Starglow, 3D Stroke, Sound Keys, Lux and Particular). Trapcode consistently puts out must-have plug-ins, so believe me, I am not just blowing smoke (although I could with Particular - okay, bad joke).

Adobe digital video and audio primers

Adobe digital video and audio primers is a terrific resource that Adobe has added to their site. Learn about analog, ditigal and virtually every format. Learn about DVD, compression and streaming media as well. Intrigued? Check it out.

Porting between Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects

Porting between Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects is another repeat on the site, but it's come up again with my students' projects.

Old Film Look

old filmDémbélé Ismael of Institut National Polytechnique FHB, Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), West Africa, shows you a simple method of achieving that "Old Film" look without third-party plug-ins.

You can achieve a variety of amazing film looks with Magic Bullet Suite SD and DifiEffects Cinelook, for example, which is a great product, but if you're without funds and need a simple and quick old film look in a pinch, check out this tutorial.

yU + co Opens ABC's Desperate Housewives

yU + co Opens ABCs "Desperate Housewives". A few weeks ago someone asked me about this open and if I'd seen it. It's Carnivale meets Monty Python's Flying Circus. There is a Quicktime and a nice article.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Art of Roto

Art of Roto by Matt Silverman, who is a successful visual effects artist and software developer. The article came out this summer and I believe I linked to it but from a different site. If I did, it's worth a repeat.

Are you charging enough or too much?

How to Determine Your Freelance Rate. I have students who were telling me what they're charging and they're either being severely cheated out of a dollar or they're undercutting the competition. I think it's a bit of both.

The art college where I teach supplies freelance rates at the front desk. Many students don't know about this. If you're wondering what the freelance rates are in your town, a local college may be of help.

What Makes a Good Show Reel?

FX Guide has 10 tips on making a successful show reel. Good advice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

LA Motion User Group Meeting Meeting, Nov 13

The next meeting will feature an "Ask the Pros" panel with new special guests, including Philip Hodgetts from Intelligent Assistance and Josh Mellicker from DV Creators They will also be presenting some Motion tips & tricks and have more giveaways and show specials.

TIME: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
EVENT FEE: FREE - The meeting is open to all for free, but we do ask that you pre-register here (no need to register if you have registered with them for a previous event).

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Cycore HD

Cycore HD was re-written from the ground up, the original Final Effects Complete plug-ins package brought back by Cycore FX and now available in 16-bit, non-square-pixel support and optimized for OSX and Windows XP.

Download the demo today and take it for a test drive.

Motion Graphics Los Angeles (MGLA) are demoing it at their next meeting. From their site: "One of the best things about the After Effects 6.5 upgrade is that it comes with a copy of Cycore FX (essentially a revamped edition of Final Effects Complete) for free. However, there are a few things missing, such as 16-bit and non-square-pixel support Cycore FX HD answers those questions, plus significantly enhances the particle system plug-ins and adds three new effects." Plus, they're giving away a copy.

So, what's so great about these Cycore HD plug-ins, you ask?

Cycore FX HD contains the same filters as the original FEC (Metacreation era), plus new addtions, and the additions/improvments over Cycore FX (bundled).

New filters

- Environment
- Plastic
- WarpoMatic

Improvments in Cycore FX HD?

- All filters are 16-bit

CC Particle World improvements

- New Resistance control. Simulates how particles are influenced by resistance, coming from kinetic friction (air) or a substance's viscosity (water), as they move.
- New Particle Types. Textured Square, Textured Disc and Textured Faded Disc, featuring the ability to colorize particle texture with the standard particle color.
-New Texture control group with Texture Layer pop-up, Scatter control and Texture Time pop-up. The Texture Time control determines what frame(s) to use over the life span of particles when the selected source texture is a movie or a composition that contains animation.
- New Rotation Speed and Initial Rotation controls for particle types that have individual rotation. Rotation Speed determines the speed of particles? rotation and Initial Rotation adds randomness to particles? initial rotation angle at birth.
- New Volume Shade (approx.) control. Applies an approximate volume shading to the particles for an increased sense of 3D depth. This option is available for most animation systems and particles.
-New Transfer Mode Control. Determines the transfer mode used when particles overlap each other.

CC Particle Systems II improvements

- New Source Alpha Inheritance control. Enables to control particle generation from a logo or other source with an alpha channel. This feature in combination with Animation Presets renders the PS Classic and PS LE Classic filters obsolete. The functionality of these two filters will be maintained with motion blur, more accurate subpixel precision, 16 bit per channel, more particle types and animations and generally more extensive controls.
- New Transfer Mode Control. Determines the transfer mode used when particles overlap each other.


- Advanced 3D (AE has 3D layers)
- Alpha Map (AE has curves filter)

Removed. They're both obsolete now. AE has 3D layers and the Curves filter.

Merged filters

- Slant
- Slant Matte

They're now merged into one filter, CC Slant, with the functionallity of both filters.

New filters

- Radial Blur
- Radial Fast Blur
- Vector Blur
- Split 2 (this was a bonus if you registered FEC)

Differences between Cycore FX (bundled with AE 6.5) and Cycore FX HD

- Particle Systems
- Particle Systems LE

Removed. Functionallity of both this filters included in CC Particle Systems II.

The 'Pan Behind' Tool in Adobe After Effects

David Nagel explains the finer points of The 'Pan Behind' Tool in Adobe After Effects. Follow his technique to create a magnify effect.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

New Exclusive Toolfarm Tutorial - School of Fish!

School of Fish is a tutorial that explains how to create a complex oceanscape, complete with a realistic water texture, beams of sunlight plunging through the water and bubbles floating to the surface. Plus, create a small school of fish that move individually and are different sizes.

This tutorial uses some fantastic plug-ins from Trapcode - Particular and Shine. If you don't own these plug-ins, there are demos available.

FYI, Toolfarm sells bundles of the awesome Trapcode plug-ins as well as individual licenses. Some even come with training.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Cycore Effects HD Review with Quicktimes

Read the great review of Cycore Effects HD at CreativeMac. They're 16 bit and have 3 new effects: CC Environment, CC WarpoMatic and CC Plastic. Stephen Schleicher liked them a lot.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Press Release: Toolfarm Teams Up with Curious Software

Toolfarm Teams Up with Curious Software to distribute its widely acclaimed 16-bit paint and roto software Curious gFX Pro+.

Read the full press release.SAN FRANCISCO, CA Oct. 31, 2004 Toolfarm, the number one supplier of 3rd Party After Effects plug-ins and visual effects software has teamed up with Curious Software to provide it's customers with one of the most talked about 16-Bit Paint and Roto tools, Curious gFX Pro+.

Curious gFX Pro+ is a stand-alone application, and the new choice for 16-bit paint retouch, and rotoscoping among Film and Video Professionals. gFX includes the most powerful paint engine for moving images; the most sophisticated new roto-matte system; and a superb range of features for wire and rig removal or content restoration.

"With many of the large post houses having already adopted it, gFX Pro provides all of the tools necessary for painting and rotoscoping in an effects environment.", says Toolfarm VP of Sales and Marketing, Colin Sharp. We can now provide professional customers with the next generation visual effects tool.

Halid Hatic, President, Curious Software, adds, "Toolfarm has the depth of knowledge and market coverage to provide superior sales and support to Curious gFx Pro+ customers. We look forward with great pleasure to our ongoing association."

gFX Pro+ is offered at $1,995 and an upgrade version of the product for Pinnacle Commotion users is offered at $995. For more information on the limited time Commotion - promotion, please contact Toolfarm's sales department.

About Toolfarm Inc., based in San Francisco since 1999, is the leading third-party reseller of After Effects Plug-ins and visual effects tools. Known also for distribution, publishing, service and training, it has become the one-stop shop for Adobe After Effects Plug-ins as well as motion graphics tools. It is also the home of Support Farm; an online community of professional digital artists who help users achieve desired effects for a small fee.

About Curious gFX

Curious Software is an innovative software company with a great pedigree. Founded in May 1999, Curious Software's aim is to make the highest quality professional information graphics available to everyone creating content for the television, postproduction, Internet and corporate graphics industries. Curious Software products provide all the tools required to create stunning animations and presentations in easy-to-use and affordable packages. Our series of professional products are all based on a generic multilayered animation engine, designed to accelerate the creation of the highest quality graphics.

For more information about Curious Software and its products please visit

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Simulating 35mm Motion Picture Clarity in After Effects by Daniel Broadway

This is an older tutorial but I haven't come across it before. It explains how to simulate 35mm Motion Picture Clarity in After Effects.

After Effects and Lightwave

Halfway down the page are some tutorials that address working between After Effects and Lightwave. Learn about tracking motion into Lightwave, exporting Lightwave camera zoom to After Effeects, exchanging keyframes between the programs and using Lightwave envelopes in AE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Profound Effects - CameraPOV gets Tied Up!

Profound Effects has posted an article and Quicktime movies about the use of CameraPOV in a new indie teen film called Tied Up!

Profound Effects CameraPOV is a suite of 8 video effects for simulating looking through the lenses of various 35mm, digital, or video cameras. Give your crime, reality, documentary, suspense, drama, and other types of footage an interesting look with a minimum of effort.

Cinema 4D support for After Effects 6.5

Download the Free plug-in for After Effects 6.5 here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

An Interview with Director Kerry Conran

Kerry Conran, director of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, talks about his career, spending four years creating six minutes of a feature film by himself on a Mac IIsi, and using After Effects and Final Cut Pro to make the incredible special effects of Sky Captain.

Primatte Keyer Now Supports Avid and Discreet combustion

Red Giant Software today announced that Primatte Keyer now supports Avid non-linear editing systems and Discreet combustion 3 desktop compositing software. Previously only available as an After Effects plug-in, Primatte Keyer's enhanced versatility adds increased functionality to the production pipeline of independent filmmakers and visual effects artists.
The software overcomes matte extraction challenges including uneven lighting, subtle shadows, and edge light contamination (spill) prior to compositing.

Photoshop & Curious gFX Tutorials

You've officially hit the tutorial jackpot. We've added nine, count 'em, nine, Photoshop tutorials from Total Training, as well as 3 video tutorials from Curious gFX.

There are currently 81 After Effects tutorials on the site, many which are exclusive to Toolfarm. Have fun and learn a lot!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

8 New Video Tutorials from Total Training!

Check out these fine samples from Total Training's Total AE and AE know-it-all, Brian Maffitt (and I mean that in a good way, Brian).

The tutorials are all for AE 6.5 and are in Quicktime and Windows Media formats. Learn about the new motion tracker, some new filters such as ball action, color finesse and vector blur, the new animation presets and the new paint.

If you didn't see the great review of Total AE, written by Matt Schirado of the West Michigan After Effects User Group, view it here. Matt is a witty guy and quite a wordsmith.

Press Release: Toolfarm acquires AE FreeMart

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Oct. 15, 2004 - Toolfarm Inc. announced today the acquisition of AE FreeMart, an online resource for users of Adobe After Effects and motion graphics tools. will integrate all of the content from within

Read the full press release AE FreeMart, known for their leading source of After Effects news, tips and tutorials, will allow Toolfarm customers the ability to locate products, read reviews and purchase all within "Toolfarm, as the leader in After Effects Plug-ins, and AE FreeMart, as the leading source of After Effects news, tips and tutorials, makes it a perfect match", says Toolfarm VP of Sales and Marketing, Colin Sharp. Sharp continues, "Users can now find a product, check reviews and make educated purchase decisions without leaving"

Michele Yamazaki of AE FreeMart adds, "I'm really excited to be able to offer my users the products and online support available from Toolfarm. Many artists are on tight deadlines, so the marriage of Toolfarm and AE FreeMart allows customers to get information and products quickly and efficiently."

About Toolfarm Inc., based in San Francisco since 1999, is the leading third-party reseller of After Effects Plug-ins and visual effects tools. Known also for distribution, publishing, service and training, it has become the de facto standard as the one-stop shop for Adobe After Effects Plug-ins as well as motion graphics tools. It is also the home of Support Farm, an online community of professional digital artists who help users achieve desired effects for a small fee.

About AE FreeMart

AE FreeMart is an online resource and portal for users of Adobe After Effects and Motion Graphics Tools. Based around non-biased reviews, user stories and tutorials, AE FreeMart also provides downloadable projects and user group listings.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Redesign of ABC's 20/20 Graphics

Big Machine Design created After Effects toolkits specifically for ABC so that editors and designers all have access to the show's graphic look. They have a Quicktime sample featuring the other Miss Jackson. LaToya, that is.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Tips on Optimizing After Effects 6.5

The Adobe web site has a document in their support knowledgebase explaining how to optimize the system, your workflow and After Effects settings.

The Hacks are Back!

By an overwhelming response, we've added the hacks section from the AE FreeMart to Toolfarm. Check out our tutorials. They've been added to the bottom of the list.

Automatic Duck releases free update

Today Automatic Duck released a free update to their OMF import plug-in Pro Import FCP, bringing it to 1.02. In addition to many fixes and improvements, this new version adds support for Video Strobe and Dip to Color effects from Avid editing systems.

You can download the latest installer from our web site.

Automatic Duck continues to seek help testing the changes they have made to try to support import of 24fps sequences into FCP. If you're interested in helping, please email them.

The Top Ten DVD Authoring Nightmares

Making DVDs keeps getting easier... but there are still many ways to make mistakes. CustomFlix helps independent filmmakers and content producers worldwide publish their own DVDs, so we see an amazing range of authoring errors. Some are minor annoyances, others are complete show-stoppers. All could have been avoided with the right information.

Visit The Top 10 DVD Authoring Nightmares... And How to Avoid Them.

Review: Total Training: After Effects

Toolfarm Rating: (5/5)

For years I've heard of this fabled educational resource for Adobe After Effects Users, and a revered name whispered in hushes during casual conversation: Brian Maffitt. Who is this scheming, underground Yoda of AE, and why haven't I beheld his infinite wisdom? My days of secluded ignorance were to quickly end....

Read the rest of the reviewTotal Training for After Effects, Set 1, is now formally digested in my bowels - a comprehensive introduction to AE's interface, general workflow, setup, animation, and particularly specific hick-ups that motion graphic artists would meet in a typical day. I've seen some other DVD-based training for software, but Total Training contains significantly more "meat" than anything.... other than Chris & Trish Meyer's line of AE books. I attempted to jog my brain for any possible topic or technical "gotcha" that might have been overlooked in DVD Set 1, but couldn't come up with one to articulate.

Brian Maffitt, AE Guru

Mr. Maffitt (can I call you Brian?) takes you through AE in such a way as to keep you relaxed and engaged (with some rather poor puns along the way), moving from topic to topic as smoothly as I've ever seen anyone present an application program. Does Brian ever have to do another take? Does he fumble his words? Forget what day it is? The viewer would never know it. The presentations are polished, fluid, and comprehensive enough to explain the "why's" behind every recommendation, and workflows to avoid. I feel the question "why" is the most important question to answer if true understanding of AE is the goal.

The example projects Brian and viewers work through are relatively simple, absolutely necessary to new users, and targeted to exemplifying the concepts of the lesson, be they velocity curves, keyframe manipulation, import options or even working with film transfers and video interlacing. I can see how some newbies might be overwhelmed if they have never seen any Adobe software products before; it really does help to have a mild familiarity with Photoshop and Illustrator (which is pretty much where I am) before you dive into Total Training. Something many viewers might not consider is to just re-view the DVD's, especially if things go by more quickly than you can absorb. I reviewed a couple of sections, which really did make the difference.

Assisting Brian is Steve Holmes (British, I assume), who goes into most of AE's preferences and technical issues that some people might consider tedious, but are actually quite important. This is probably the fastest way to learn about technical issues you can find. The most popular technical tip is the keyboard shortcut, which Steve and Brian offer over and over, for Mac and Windows, with hearty convincing to learn them. Being more mouse oriented, I reluctantly admit some of their shortcuts are indispensable.

I should note that most of the material presented works with Version 5.5 as well as 6.0, and users who didn't get the Pro version won't miss much. I assume later DVD sets will jump into Pro version features, but Set 1 just covers basics. You'll want to make sure you feel comfortable with most of the content, because later lessons will take off using those concepts in spades.

By Matt Schirado, West Michigan After Effects User Group
Matt Schirado works as an editor at a television station, is currently training to be a master of all software with Pixel Corps and writes in his spare time.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

broadcastGEMs review

There's a nice review of broadcastGEMs up at Digital Producer. Roland Kahlenberg, the artist who created the product, just happens to be the co-founder of the AE FreeMart, but that doesn't make me biased... just read the review.

So, if you're a super busy artist who doesn't always have time to create everything from scratch, broadcastGEMs is for you. You'll make Roland happy too. ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2004

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Film Fix

Film Fix is an automated desktop film restoration tool announced by Red Giant Software. You can remove flicker, repair seams and stabilize footage, not to mention remove dust and scratches. If you're in the business of film restoration, this will really make your life easier!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Automatic Duck showcases new After Effects Solutions

Automatic Duck, besides having one of the funnest names in the business, has some new goodies that integrate Adobe Premiere Pro, called Automatic Duck Pro Import PPro, and Pro Import AE 3.0 or Red. Isn't that nice of them!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Cool Roto Zoom Tip for OS X Users

This was posted to the AE Mail-List, which I don't really read much anymore, but it's a great resource. This one caught my eye, because the West Michigan After Effects User Group is going to present a little roto at the next meeting. I can't wait to show everyone this tip.

From Alex ( "I'm on a pretty huge roto job for the moment, and as I was on my 356'th frame of my 5th sequence, I was starting to have very achy eyes. It kind of sucks that you can't make your mask vertices bigger in AE, and zooming into the comp doesen't make the mask look any fatter. So I contantly had to move very close to the screen to see what I was doing, mostly when the mask was on top of a color similar to its own.

So I remembered the mac os X built in "Zoom" function. Go to the system prefs>universal access. There you can switch on a "zoom" function that lets you zoom into your screen. It is a pretty cool tool for all sorts of purposes, but in my case, using a combination of zooming in the comp in AE and zooming in the screen in the OS, I got a big looking image, with a fat mask I could still see while sitting back in my chair, instead of nose against the screen. More precision / more comfort. (Command+Option+8 should get you there).

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Lights and Lux for After Effects

Ko Maruyama has a tutorial up at the new After Effects DMN channel - Lights and Lux for After Effects.

You'll need a demo or full version of Lux from Trapcode to play along.

If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times (probably closer to 100)... Trapcode's plug-ins rock!If I was stranded on a desert island all I'd really need to survive is a Swiss Army knife, some Pez and Trapcode's 3D Stroke. ;-)

Four new plug-ins from Panopticum

Panopticum has released four new plug-ins in the past 30 days and they look pretty swell.

Panopticum Custom Speed allows you to adjust the speed and direction of video playback.

With Panopticum Water 1.0, you can make breath-taking realistic and otherworldly water effects.

Panopticum Rulers is a useful looking plug-in that helps you create various types of scales, clock-type dials, rulers and more.

Panopticum Area FX 1.0, which we announced a few week ago consists of three filters: Area Transformer, Area Wipe and Area Filler.

There's some cool movies of each and of course demos for you to try out.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

. : t h e A N V E L : .

An open letter from Dean Valez:

Hey After Effects Community,

I'm writing this post in regards to a few Adobe presentations that I've been involved with this year. Specifically NAB, BDA, Adobe Roadshow Atlanta, and Siggraph. I promised that I would post some free tutorials and AEPs from the After Effects master classes and demos that I did. Well I've finally got them posted... since I didnt collect emails I'm hoping that some of the attendees frequent this site and will go to my site to collect them.

The site is The ANVEL and its located under "free tutorials" on the navigation page. There will be 2 folders labeled lessons and movie examples. In the lessons folder you will have a choice to download zipped files or stuffed files. Some lessons will include pdf instructions and 6.5 AEPs and some will only have 6.5 AEPs. In the movie examples folder there will be low res Quicktime examples of each lesson.  If you didnt attend any of these shows you're still invited to download the files. Please if you have any questions regarding any of  the lessons don't hesitate to email me at just put in the subject line AE FREE TUTORIALS

Dean Velez

Cool Beans. The man on the page is nice and ripped too .

Sunday, August 15, 2004

X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot is a tutorial by the prolithic Mr. Schleicher. There is a similar tutorial in the great Total Training Total AE series (version 6.0), where they show a bike race map across Europe. This is a really cool trick to know!

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Stephen Schleicher has a new tutorial up at Digital Producer, an updated version of the Star Wars Intro for AE 6.5.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Siggraph News

Roving AE FreeMart reporter Matt Schirado has updated us with the following juicy tidbits from Siggraph.

wondertouch Demos particleIllusion for After Effects

Verbatim from the press release: "Cited for the speed and interactivity of its interface which allows artists to quickly and efficiently deliver effects in real- or near-real time, the particleIllusion plug-in will provide motion graphics and visual effects professionals with easy access to the powerful particleIllusion 3.0 software engine from directly within the After Effects environment." Particle Emitter of particle illusion

Previews of the particleIllusion plug-in for Adobe After Effects will take place in the wondertouch booth (#912) each day of the Siggraph convention. The particleIllusion plug-in for Adobe After Effects (Windows and Mac OS X) is expected to ship early in the fourth quarter 2004; pricing to be determined. All versions of particleIllusion can be purchased directly from Wonder Touch.

MAXON Computer presents the 9th generation of CINEMA4D

Verbatim: "As part of a continual focus on improving ease-of-use, Release 9 development has focused on refining many areas of the program as well as adding impressive new features such as cloth simulation, sub-polygon displacement, N-Gons and much more."

download a demo of Cinema4DMaxon Computer is one of our sponsors, too, so please check out their site. CINEMA4D Release 9 is slated to ship worldwide in early September, 2004. It can be ordered through authorized MAXON distributors, like Toolfarm.

Apple Releases Motion and Production Suite

Verbatim from MacCentral: "Apple on Tuesday released Motion, its long-awaited real-time motion graphics design software application aimed at video professionals and others. The software integrates with Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro, and costs US$299." It looks pretty swell and I can't wait to see how it performs against After Effects - very cheap software but the hardware is hardcore!

Production Suite is a new package that combines Final Cut Pro HD, Motion and DVD Studio Pro 3 for $1,299. FCP owners get a break, making the total $699.

Silhouette FX Releases silhouette+roto

Please see the post from a few days ago for more info. I've been hearing great reviews! Their website has been updated with more information too.

Algolith Announces New Bundles and Lower Prices

Algolith, a leading provider of digital image processing plug-ins for the film, post-production and video industry, announces a substantial price lowering and simplification of all available Plug Ins for Adobe After Effects and other visual effects software packages. Algolith's plug-ins will now be offered in four main categories; Noise Reduction, Frame Rate Conversio, Time Warp, Rendering. The new pricing begins in September.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

New Tracking Tool - The Foundry Furnace AE

The Foundry Furnace AE are some really great tracking tools that was used on such Hollywood hits as The Matrix, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.

Now I really really need to update the plug-ins section. There has been quite a few new releases in the past week.

Free Plug-in for HDR Compositing eLin

eLin, developed by The Orphanage, is a Free plugin that was used in Hellboy, Jeepers Creepers 2 and The Day After Tomorrow. There is also a Commercial version.

L[8] to AE6.5

Stephen Schleicher shares his technique for Moving camera data to AE6.5 via RPF. My students use Lightwave, so this is an excellent resource for me to send them.

Digital Media Net Launches Six Application Channels

DMN Channels is offering channels for AE, Photoshop, Sony Vegas, Final Cut Pro, Premiere and Illustrator.

The After Effects Channel will offer techniques, tutorials, reviews and profiles and projects. Yay!

silhouette+roto: The Shape of Things To Come

First product from Silhouette FX, LLC is silhouette+roto, a complete rotoscoping solution created by artists for artists leveraging Academy Award(R) winning experience. silhouette+roto is a robust rotoscoping solution created by artists for artists.

The press release was quite long, and there's not much at their website yet, so here's a quick breakdown.
  • Advanced, fully animatable shape tools including support for Bezier and continuously adjustable Rational B-Spline based shapes for precise control and ease-of-use. Points, whole shapes, and even groups of shapes can be moved, scaled, rotated and warped.
  • OpenGL(R) accelerated real-time shape preview directly over the image.
  • OpenGL accelerated rendering.
  • Editing of shapes and groups of shapes that can be automatically applied across a range of keyframes.
  • Integrated motion trackers that can apply motion to individual points or whole shapes.
  • Variable edge softness that can be defined anywhere along a shape.
  • Motion blur that is computed automatically.
  • Import of shapes from Elastic Reality(R) and Commotion(TM).
  • Availability as a plug-in to Adobe(R) After Effects(R), Apple(R) Final Cut Pro(R) and other host applications (check web site for compatibility).
  • Availability as a stand-alone application for Windows(R), Mac OS(R) and Linux platforms.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Blue Moon

Blue Moon - Stephen Schleicher has a tutorial at Digital Producer that looks like lots of fun!

And pondering the eternal question, What the hell is blue moon ice cream?. Seems to be a Michigan thing. I always thought it was world wide. Who knew!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

BroadcastGEMs Animated Backdrops

BroadcastGEMs(GEMs being a stylized acronym for Graphic Elements in Motion) has developed high-quality Customizable Royalty-free Animated Backdrops. The company was founded by Creative Cow AE Forum Leader, Roland Kahlenberg, who was also the co-founder of the AE FreeMart.

Pretty nice stuff and very useful, especially to those who are really busy and need to crank out "art" at warp speed. The BroadcastGEMs website isn't ready for the world yet, so consider this a sneak peek.

If you have questions or want to know how to purchase them, please contact Roland.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Bonjour, je suis retourné! (Hello, I'm back!)

We had an incredible time in Quebéc - a wonderful and charming place with friendly people... It's strange to use American dollars and not have to ask Parlez-vous anglais ? (That's - Do you speak English). I love those $2 Canadian coins. Brilliant.

There will be some big updates in the coming weeks, after I get settled back into a routine and do some laundry .

I would like to thank Matt for doing an incredible job updating the news for me. Merci beaucoup, mathewsean! Je l'apprécie vraiment. (Thank you very much, I appreciate it!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Free Animation Loop and AE Favorite

Graphic Designer Scott Frizzle is offering a free looping animation background(called BlubblePlex), and an AE Effects Favorite "Quaker," for a shaking camera effect. It is all in celebration of the opening of his new company, Scott Frizzle + Associates. He's formerly of Artifact Design in Atlanta (co-founder).

Free Stuff is at:


Friday, July 09, 2004

New After Effects Books

After Effects and Photoshop: Animation and Production Effects for DV and Film is a great book from Jeff Foster and Sybex that has some cool tutorials and a chapter that I really enjoyed about adding some photo-realistic touches to your animations.

After Effects On the Spot: Time-Saving Tips and Shortcuts from the Pros is by Richard Harrington, Rachel Max, and Marcus Geduld. I've chatted with Rachel Max over email a few times over the past couple of years and she is a really talented artist with an impressive resume. I haven't had a chance to check this book out quite yet, but CMP books are always excellent. You may be familiar with Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, Volume 1: The Essentials, Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects: Volume 2: Advanced Techniques and After Effects in Production by Trish and Chris Meyer, all published by CMP.

Man, do these books have long names, or what!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Decibel Collective

Check out the The Decibel Collective, aka DBC. We have worked out a trade where I will get to use some of their fine music for an upcoming tutorial. Their stuff is great and really targeted to motion graphics artists. I've been working on the tutorial for a while, but it's not close to ready. I've posted an ad for them to the right, beneath the Total Training ad.

I've had the flu or something, my baby has been sick, as is my husband, and two grandmothers who babysit for us are also sick. Hence, not much as been done lately, as you can probably tell by the lack of updates. Flu in July!?!?

Thursday, July 01, 2004 is Dan Ebberts' resource for AE Scripting and expressions. This is the new home of the AE Expressions Lab with new stuff. I'm ready to dig in!

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

VFX HQ : Visual Effects Headquarters

VFX HQ : Visual Effects Headquarters goes in depth on the effects in movies like Titanic, Starship Troopers, Star Wars and Flubber (man, I forgot all about that film!)

Friday, June 25, 2004

Art of Roto

Colin Sharp from Toolfarm sent me this great read - Art of Roto by Matt Silverman, developer of AE plug-in Color Theory . This is an indepth article on the history of rotoscoping - from Popeye to Snow White - and a summary of roto tools and programs, including lots of screen shots.

There's a tip in the article: Red Giant software offers a Commotion to AE roto import plug-in.

Share the Love

I've been meaning to do something like this for a while - AE Enhancers. AE Users can share scripts, tutorials, and more in a forum interface. It's just getting started, but I know with your help, you can really make it a great archive of AE stuff.

So, what are you bringing to the party?

Beam Me Up, Stephen!

Mr. Schleicher does it again with his new tutorial, Beam Me Up.

Adobe Photoshop Style Layer Effects: Series #12

Okay, It's not After Effects, but it's Free and it looks like fun. Adobe Photoshop Style Layer Effects: Series #12.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Quicktime Resource

Matt Schirado, from the West Michigan After Effects User Group, sent me an excellent link about Quicktime. Loads of information on comparing Quicktime Codecs - the pros and cons of delivery codecs, authoring codecs and legacy codecs. I'm bookmarking this one!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

After Effects 6.5 Tryout

This came from "Continues to set new standards in motion graphics and visual effects for film, video, DVD, and the Web. Offering unmatched integration with Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Encore DVD, Adobe Audition, Photoshop CS, and Illustrator CS software, After Effects gives you the speed, precision, and power to be visually innovative as you meet production challenges and deliver quality results."

Yeah, we knew that! If you don't have it, give it a whirl.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Free Symbol Signs

AIGA has a set of 50 symbol signs available free of charge. They are in GIF and EPS format. They include restroom symbols, airport symbols, hotel info, baggage... great resource!

This looks pretty interesting. That little character reminds me of that toenail fungus commerical though, which makes me want to puke when I see it peel up the nail. looks pretty cool though - learn animation techniques from home, or work, or Starbucks. Just don't learn to animate toenail fungus. Please.

Movies for Music Film Contest

Does the RIAA make you fume? Yes, me too. They say that the artists are the ones losing money because of filesharing, but in reality, it's the Big Five Record Labels. This contest is designed to "show people how the music industry really works, and convince them that now is the time to make things change."

First prize is a Zvue handheld video player. Honorable mentions get t-shirts. I love t-shirts.

BBC to Open the Floodgates

I've been following this for a while. The BBC is going to make 3 minute clips of it's nature content available for free beginning this fall. That means anyone can download them and use them in their own work. They're planning to use the Creative Commons license which is an American flexible copyright license for digital content. It's going to be difficult for them to clear all of the footage because some includes copyrighted music.

I can't wait to see how this turns out.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Superfast Running and other tutorials

Ken Lawton has some tutorials that explain some Star Wars effects, cloning and more. They're for AE 5.5.

Renderfarm Tips

I don't know if you read Slashdot, but someone posted info on Render Farming that I know some of you will find useful.

A friend from our user group, Demian, has been testing render farming over the internet, kind of how SETI@home works.

Do any of you have any tips for render farming? If so, please post them to the comments. We'd love to hear them.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Cineme 2004

CINEME, the Chicago International Film Festival is giving mucho dinero this year - $25,000 IN CASH AWARDS, exclusive nightly parties, prizes, musical guests, award-winning speakers and premieres. What are you waiting for! Send 'em your work!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Trapcode Particular Tutorial

Ko Maruyama at Digital Producer has published part 2 of the Trapcode Particular tutorial about setting up 3D lights for Particle Emission.

This plug-in rocks, just like all the other Trapcode plug-ins. I can't say enough great things about them, plus, they're affordable. I would recommend downloading the demo of Particular. Their introductory low price of $199 expires TODAY!, June 10. Makes a spectacular Father's Day gift.

Huge List of Digital Media Links

I just did a browse through, but this is one heck of a big list of sites that actually sound worthwhile to visit!

Blue Screen Tutorial

Here is a well explained technique for blue screening with After Effects or Premier. I hadn't heard of before but I'm definitely going to go through the site a bit.

The site has tutorials for Photoshop, Flash, 3D Studio Max and other software too, and the site has a design that is very pleasing to the eye. You know, on the next makeover of the FreeMart, I may do something more like they've done with their home page.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

New Tutorial: Weather Map

An AE FreeMart exclusive tutorial - Make a weather map with nasty precipitation. In May, we drowned in rain, so that must've been my inspiration. This tutorial is for intermediate level users. The project files are AE 6 files and use Fractal Noise, Colorama and Set Channel. This one is lots of fun! Much better than the monsoons.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Useful Things Adds CHOPs plus AE 6.5 Compatibility

Profound Effects has announce the availability of Useful Things 1.6. This unique effects plug-in now offers nearly limitless CHOPs (channel operations) potential and compatibility with After Effects version 6.5. Updates to more than 50 existing effects, enhanced stability, and new blend modes round out this new version.

If you haven't tried Useful Things, it's wonderful. Think of all of the things that you wished you could do with AE... well, Useful Things (and Useful Assistants, their other plug-in) will probably allow you to do it.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Prime time for Digital Trove's PRIME

PRIME is 26 new plug-ins for After Effects. (They have the Edge Warp filter - the same sort of effect used on the gmunk stuff, which I love).Vertigo and Tech Grid look pretty darn useful, as do the others. They are running a special through July 2004, $100 off the regular $299 price. Not a bad price for so many goodies!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Final Cut Pro to AE? Here's how.

Stephen Schleicher. You may recognize his name from or He IS "The most prolithic AE tutorial writer on earth" (aparently, he visits the AE FreeMart ;-). And, he has his own site.

While you're at his site check out the tutorials section where Stephen has tips on Lighting, After Effects, Final Cut Pro and more. What a terrific resource!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Trish and Chris Meyer of CyberMotion will be presenting the motion graphics track of the PROMAX/BDA Road Show this summer. They will be showing tricks and techniques based around the themes of 3D, Text, and Particles. Their demonstrations will focus on using After Effects 6.5, but will also feature tools such as Apple's new Motion, Zaxwerks ProAnimator, and plug-ins including Trapcode's Lux and Particular and Profound Effects' Useful Things. Capping each day will be a Case Study from a major studio (for example, Belief will provide the Case Study in Los Angeles; CBS 2 in Chicago; Primal Screen in Atlanta). Attendance will also include the chance to win thousands in door prizes!

More details, including a full list of prizes and the locations in each city, can be found here (this page will be updated regularly as more details come in). BDA is extending a special price to user group members of $129 for the day (registration is normally $189 before June 1, going up to $209 afterwards) To take advantage of this special pricing, using the following links:

AE 6.5 is out!

Okay, okay, I'm a little late getting this posted (computer problems), but please check out the Adobe Site for all the new stuff in AE 6.5.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

HimAnI Productions Uses RotoImport on More Than 150 Hellboy FX Shots

Red Giant Software sent us the following in a press release: "Red Giant Software today announced that HimAnI Productions used RotoImport on hundreds of FX shots used in the blockbuster film, Hellboy. The bulk of the work focused on the film’s subway train sequence where Hellboy fights the monster, Sammael. HimAnI Productions created the entire subway train and platform environment in 3D. RotoImport was crucial to making the 200-frame shot work."

I haven't seen the film; I don't get to go to the movies much anymore. Lily, the baby, doesn't let me go too often. My friends who have seen it said it's very cool. If you're interested in the film and all the gory details, please check out the link.

Panopticum Area FX

Panopticum Area FX 1.0 is three plug-ins in one. My roving reporter Matt Schirado tells me that "Area Transformer is a tool for applying identical effects for independent parts of image. Area Wipe is designed for appearance/disappearance effects in complex images with some pronounced parts like text letters. Area Filler is designed for continuous filling of connected image areas." Panopticum Area FX is $60 for Mac OS X and Windows.

To make it an even sweeter deal, if you buy any plug-ins from Panopticum, they're $10US off.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

If it's too loud, you're too old

No, not that kind of noise! Darkling Simulations has a new noise plug-in for AE called Darkling Interactive Noise. I played with the demo a bit and it reminds me of fractal noise with it's flexibility, but goes way beyond that. For example, you can animate rings and ripples and circles and frames. It's both Mac and Windows for AE 5.5+.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Playing with Time

Playing with Time is an interesting new project that shows how things change over time - too fast or too slow for us to view. They use time lapse and speeded time to show things from a cat lapping up milk to a water balloon bouncing to a pregnant woman over six months to contentents shifting over 7,000 years. You can get in on this project too!

New AE FreeMart Tutorial! 3D Logo with Swooshing Lights

3D logo
Swirling Orbiting Lights. It is a pretty popular effect and can be done easily by knowing a few tricks. We'll use some 3D layers, a camera, and Vegas, baby. It's Fabulous. You'll need AE 6 to open the project, but you can complete the tutorial an older version of AE, as long as it supports 3D layers.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Wait is Over! Trapcode Particular is here!

This is the plug-in I've been waiting my whole life for! Trapcode Particlar allows you to create 3D particles from AE and it looks amazing. I've downloaded the demo and I'm going to check it out the first chance I get. Trapcode also has a $100 off deal for the next month.

Nightcrawler Effect

I've received an email asking if I know how to create the Nightcrawler effect - and honestly, at first I thought of worms! It's been quite a while since I've been to the movies. Mommyhood does that to a person.

I found an excellent article detailing this effect as well as others from X2.

If you come up with any cool effects and would like a place to share them with the world, mi website es tu website. Just contact us and we'll see what we can do!

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

AE 6.5 Cycore Plug-ins

Posted to the AE-List by Dik: AE Product Manager Steve Kilisky has very kindly put me out of my misery of speculation about what FEC plugs will be in AE 6.5 and sent a list of the effects licensed from Cycore. Thanks to Steve for taking the time to do that.

The effects are:
CC BallAction
CC Bendlt
CC Bender
CC Blobbylize
CC Bubbles
CC BurnFilm
CC ColorOffset
CC Composite
CC Cylinder
CC Drizzle
CC FloMotion
CC ForceMotionBlur
CC Glass
CC Glass Wipe
CC Griddler
CC GridWipe
CC Hair
CC Image Wipe
CC Jaws
CC Kaleida
CC Lens
CC LightBurst2.5
CC LightRays
CC LightSweep
CC LightWipe
CC Mr_Mercury
CC Mr_Smoothie
CC PageTurn
CC Particle Systems
CC Particle Systems II
CC Particle Systems LE
CC Particle World
CC Pixel Polly
CC Power Pin
CC Radial Blur
CC RadialScaleWipe
CC Rain
CC RepeTile
CC Ripple Pulse
CC ScaleWipe
CC Scatterize
CC Simple Wire Removal
CC Slant
CC SlantMatte
CC Smear
CC Snow
CC Sphere
CC Split
CC Split2
CC Spotlight
CC StarBurst
CC Threshold
CC ThresholdRGB
CC Tiler
CC Time Blend
CC Time Blend FX
CC Toner
CC Twister
CC Vector Blur
CC WideTime

The 3 effects missing in AE 6.5, compared to the original Metacreations-released set are:

Advanced 3D
Alpha Map
Glue Gun

Advanced 3D isn't really necessary in AE now that it has a 3D environment, of course. Alpha Map also isn't really necessary since you can remap alpha using AE Curves, which is already 16-bit. The Curves interface isn't as pretty as Alpha Map's custom UI though ;-)

Glue Gun seems a strange omission. Maybe it's possible with combinations of Vector Paint/Paint and CC Blobblize/Glass, but it won't be as convenient, I think.

The 3 missing filters are in the Media-100 version, but there are 5 plugs which are missing from Media-100 FEC for OS-X which are now included in AE 6.5:

FE Force Motion Blur
FE Particle Systems
FE Particle Systems LE
FE Radial Blur
FE Wide Time

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

How creative are you?

Take this interesting and free forty question self-assessment test from CREAX and find out how you compare creatively to the rest of the world. It's measured across 8 different "metrics". I'm bold, it says. I retook it and tried to answer as I suspected a creative person would, and I actually scored lower. Funny.

Digital Anarchy announces 3D Layer 1.0

Digital Anarchy has found a way to give 3D layers "thickness"! The students in my class this semester were asking if this was possible in AE, now I can tell them it is. "Its raytracing render engine creates beautiful reflections, refractions, and renders. Your 3D Layer can be bent, warped, punched through, texture mapped, and of course animated. This plug-in is what you've been waiting for since After Effects added 3D."

It looks like there's a sale price of $149US right now. Get it while it's hot!

Profound Effects does it again!

From MacNN: 4th Party today announced new plug-ins for Profound Effects' Useful Things (UT) and Useful Assistants (UA), its third-party tools for Adobe After Effects. The plug-ins include Color Sampler (an animated, multi-point color sampler), Effervescence (generates moving streams of particles); Filigree (complex repetitions of shapes along any After Effects path), Sprite Generator (paths filled with controllable gradients), Matrix Displacer (3D displacement of Matrices), and Wireframe (Things-based wireframe renderer). They will ship in second quarter of 2004, will cost between $15 and $25 each, and require Adobe AE and Profound's UT or UA.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Tutorial: Bleach by-pass method

Bleach By-Pass, also called Skip Bleach, gives the look of high contrast and low saturation. This is the method used in Seven and Saving Private Ryan where the silver is not removed from the negative. Stephen Schleicher shows you how.

eLin gives expanded color space to AE 6.5

The Orphanage, Inc., whose recent visual effects efforts include "Hellboy" and "The Day After Tomorrow", announced eLin, a suite of plug-ins and scripts for Adobe After Effects 6.5. eLin allows After Effects users to composite film, video, and 3D elements together in a unified High Dynamic Range (HDR) color space that mimics the physical properties of light. As a result, even simple compositing operations look better and more photographic. eLin includes support for industry-standard Cineon film scans as well as Industrial Light & Magic's open source EXR file format. eLin will be free of charge for non-commercial use.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Free Charts for VFX supervisors and coordinators

VFX Soup has free charts plus some great interviews - so be sure to check out their homepage too.

They have great forums for blue/green screen, tracking, budgets, interviews...

eFX Extract 3D helps integrate 2D & 3D workflow

eFX Extract3D is a brand new Adobe After Effects plug-in giving you total control over the powerful "hidden" 3D image channels rendered by applications like 3DS Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Softimage and Electric Image. For a limited time, buy the public beta for $65. When Version 1.0 ships, the price will go up to $95. As a participant in the Public Beta program, you'll receive a free upgrade to the released version when it ships, so it makes sense to be the first on your block to get it!

Apple announced high-quality video codec at NAB

All you techies will know what I'm talking about - an advanced HD video codec, dubbed h.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10 by the MPEG LA governing body. The codec is scaleable and flexible - can be used in cell phones, the web, HD, DVD, cable tv and more.

Monday, April 19, 2004

80's BBC Typography Documentary

Check out "Typomania". Very interesting documentary about general typography (and the music in the beginning is rad!)

GridIron announces X-Factor for AE 6.5

AE Staff reporter Matt Schirado tells us that X-Factorenables AE users to preview and render their video effects faster using a grid computing network. The new plug-in is expected to be released at the same time as After Effects Professional 6.5, which is expected in the second calendar quarter. (Yay!) X-Factor Unlimited will offer unlimited CPU use for about $2,000.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Trapcode Particular

I just got wind of a new plug-in announced by Trapcode. and it's all about serious particles! Trapcode puts out amazing plug-ins, my favorites being Shine and 3D Stroke, so I have extremely high expectations for Trapcode Particular. The release day is May 10, 2004.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Save a Grand on Saphire Plug-ins

GenArts, who generously gave the West Michigan After Effects User Group lots of goodies for their March meeting (Plug plug! Next meeting is April 19), is giving everyone a fat discount of $1000 on their incredible plug-ins. Read the press realease here.

Algolith Announces Frame Rate Converter

Just announced at NAB... This handy plug-in is designed to perform high-quality format conversion between SDTV, HDTV and film images. Read the press release here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Mayang's Free Textures

Over 1400 free textures for personal OR commercial use. I know these will be very useful!

Expressions help

Dan Ebbert's AE Expressions Lab is an incredible resource for working with expressions. If you're like me, not exactly a math person, this is the site for you! He has examples of each expression with all the code you need, plus good explanations of how to apply the expression. Genius. Thank you, Dan!

Another really great expressions resource is JJ Gifford's Expressions in After Effects.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Conoa, Inc. Announces New Versions of Its Product Lines

Conoa, Inc. announces the release and immediate availability of new versions of its Conoa 3D plug-in and Conoa EasyShapes plug-in sets for video compositing and motion graphics. Conoa 3D is now updated to version 1.8 and Conoa EasyShapes is updated to version 1.4.

The new versions feature improved rendering speed and reduced memory usage. Additionally, Conoa EasyShapes adds some user-requested features. Users now have separate controls for manipulating the opacity of the front and rear of the objects. Users may also invert texture maps horizontally. Since Conoa’s camera model allows the camera to be placed inside objects, this feature maps the video texture correctly when viewed from inside an object.

Friday, April 02, 2004

IrisFilter5.6jet Released

The new generation of IrisFIlter has just arrived. IrisFilter5.6jet is a revolutionary plug-in for genuine reproduction of Bokeh and DOF (Depth of Field) effects, like a film camera. It has been researched and developed to solve the issue of fake and unnatural DOF effects. Some of the features include various aperture shapes and variable exposure.

CameraPOV Simulator Plug-Ins Let You Go Behind The Lens

Profound Effects, Inc., a leading innovator in special effects technology, is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Version 1.0 of CameraPOV, a plug-in suite that offers the through-the-lens point-of-view of eight different types of cameras. This modestly priced package is available for many effects and editing platforms including Final Cut Pro 3.x or 4.0, certain Avid editing systems, After Effects 5.5 and later, combustion 3.0, and Digital Fusion 4.0.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

patchmaker - Motion Tracker for AE

Patchmaker is a new motion tracking and stabilizing tool that can be used with After Effects. There is a free demo and lots of samples of the tool. It's PC only and I'm not sure about a future Mac version. The site is also available in Russian!

Friday, March 19, 2004

Trendwatch says every little thing gonna be alright

Here's a couple of highlights: One in three studios see hiring more employees as key to new business in 2004. 69% of mid-size studios/facilities expect business in 2004 to be excellent.

Read more about the report here.

Just in Time for the Final 4!

At the request of an AE FreeMart visitor with an excellent memory, I dug this tutorial from the archives. It's a 3D basketball that bounces realistically across the screen. It was made for AE 4.1 production bundle, but still works with newer versions of AE. You must have Final Effects Sphere, as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Media Motion Ball

Going to NAB and looking for a good time? The Media Motion Ball is the event you must not miss. "Monday April 19th at the Stardust Casino and Hotel, Las Vegas will see the biggest annual event for AE-List and IMUG members from around the globe. This event is brought to you by the International Media Users Group and the AE-List - totally independent, non-profit and volunteer organizations."

The food is fantastic and plentiful (included in the ticket), there's a live band, the company is great and the prizes second to none.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Bouncing LED Levels Tutorial

Use the cool new text tool in AE 6 and a specialized (free) font to create nifty bouncing audio levels, also known as a LED Spectrum Analyzer, in a brushed metal interface, a la iTunes. This is an AE FreeMart exclusive tutorial.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Please welcome our new advertiser

CINEMA 4D is a production-level 3D modeling, animation and rendering software package for high-end production studios. It is The Most Comprehensive Integration Between a 3D Application and Adobe After Effects.

And it is incredible! Just check out their gallery, I'm sure you've seen a lot of work done with Cinema 4D. It has been used by Sony, Fox Television, Disney, NBC, CBS, HBO, The Travel Channel, Warner Bros. Television, and many more.

Click the banner above (or this link) and download a free demo.

New Plug-in: Misfire

I just got the scoop from my Ace Reporter, Matt Schirado, who tells me that Red Giant has announced Misfire. It's a new plug-in for After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and Premiere Pro which offers 14 different film characteristics, including popular tools like grain, splotches, and scratches, as well as projection artifacts like flicker and gate weave. When I find out more, I'll post it.

Unmult is back! And for AE 6!

Knoll Unmult is a plug-in that people are always emailing me about and now this well-loved plug-in is available for AE 6, from Red Giant Software. Hip hip hurray!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Alien Fire Effects

Mac Design Online shows you how to use the strobe to create realistic fire reflectiong on a rendered 3D character. This is an exercise in compositing.

While you're there, check out some of the older tutorials and downloads they have available.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Creative Hotlist

Search Creative Hotlist for jobs or internships in the design field, and find out what qualifications you'll need to get your dream job.

Need answers about a career in graphic design?

Check out and learn about creating a portfolio, resume essentials, job interviews, typography, plus some software tutorials and forums. A great resource!

Boris Intros Continuum Complete 3

Coming soon to a computer near you... Boris Continuum Complete 3 gives you over 160 filters include advanced keying, matting, compositing, image processing, distortion, temporal effects and motion tracking. These filters provide the creative freedom to animate your graphical elements or video at any speed, acceleration, or position you want. Yeah, baby!

Monday, March 01, 2004

Major renovation to the AE Store

The latest and greatest has been added to the AE store. You can get a lot more than just AE goodies, too. We're now selling hardware, other graphics programs, jog shuttles and boat loads more through Toolfarm. Check it out!

The books section is not yet complete, but I'm working on it. The AE Books page is going.

When you buy your goods through the AE FreeMart, you not only get a good deal but support this here web site. Now, doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Free Stuff from Detonation Films

Free is my middle name (or were my parents just playing some sick joke!@#$). Check out Detonation Films Free Stuff page and get some free stock footage (Blowing Stuff Up and a Smoke Disk), a Word Script template and storyboard paper.

Animating a Signature

While you're at Creative Mac, check out another new tutorial, how to writing on some text, by Ko Maruyama. This is an effect that everyone should know how to do.

BTW, if you're not a Mac user, please check these tutorials out anyway. They work for Windows AE too.

sub-pixel placement in After Effects

Stephen Schleicher has a new tutorial, In the Cards that teaches how to nudge an increments less than a pixel, just a wee scoot.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Useful Assistants 2.1 is now available

Get the new Useful Assistants! 20 new or updated assistants (70+ total assistants) have been added for working with layers and masks more efficiently, and several more assistants updated with additional functionality. A "useful" tool, and aptly named, and has become even more useful in this free upgrade for existing users.

Perry from Profound Effects gave me a copy to review a while ago. I was totally impressed with the capabilities of his products. Everything that you want to do with AE but can't, give Useful Assistants a try.

Profound Effects also has a couple of freebie plug-ins: Reveal and Bullnose Mask